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Please download a copy of the program for the 18th Annual Spring 2014 NCS-AAPT meeting here.


Information about the invited speakers is below.

Plenary Speaker  

Dr. Charles Falco will be our plenary speaker, giving a talk on The History of Art; The Science of Optics - Discoveries about Renaissance paintings resulting from a collaboration with the renowned artist David Hockney.

Charles Falco is a holds joint appointments in Optical Sciences and Physics at the University of Arizona, where he holds the UA Chair of Condensed Matter Physics. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Optical Society of America, and the SPIE has published more than 250 scientific manuscripts, most of which are related to various physical properties of thin film materials, co-edited two books, has seven U.S. patents, and has given more than 400 invited talks on his research at conferences, research institutions, and cultural organizations in 27 countries. However, in addition to his scientific research, in 1998 he was co-recipient of an award from the AICA for his work as co-curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum's "The Art of the Motorcycle," for which he also wrote the exhibition catalog's introductory essay and bibliography. With over 2 million visitors in New York, Chicago, Bilbao, and the Guggenheim Las Vegas, it was by far the most successful exhibition of industrial design ever assembled, and is the 5th most attended museum exhibition of any kind. More recently, a collaboration with the artist David Hockney that found artists of such repute as van Eyck, Bellini and Caravaggio used optical projections in creating portions of their work has resulted in widespread coverage in the popular media, including an hour-long BBC special and a segment on CBS '60 Minutes', and over 150 invited talks and public lectures on this topic in 21 countries.

Invited Speaker  

Dr. Beth Cunningham, the Executive Officer of AAPT, will present AAPT: Building Better Physics Educators.

Beth is the Executive Officer of the American Association of Physics Teachers. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree, a Master of Arts degree, and a Doctor of Philosophy from Kent State University. After receiving her doctorate, Beth was a post-doctoral fellow at the Hormel Institute at the University of Minnesota. She taught for one year in the physics department at Gettysburg College immediately following her post-doctoral fellowship. In 1989 she joined the physics department at Bucknell University as an assistant professor, attaining full professor in 2002. She was named associate dean of the faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2000. As a faculty member she involved students actively in her research and ran a Research Experiences for Undergraduate site. In 2006, she was appointed as Provost, Dean of the Faculty, and Professor of Physics at Illinois Wesleyan University. As provost, Beth initiated a strategic curricular review and revitalized departmental reviews to enhance academic programs. At AAPT since 2011, Beth provides leadership on a number of physics education initiatives including providing professional development opportunities for high school teachers of physics, supporting physics educators in higher education through workshops for new faculty and topical conferences, and the PhysTEC project to increase the number and quality of high school physics teachers. As a long time member of AAPT, she enjoys working closely with many members to improve physics teaching and learning at all levels. She has assisted AAC&U Project Kaleidoscope in developing STEM faculty leaders and CUR to incorporate undergraduate research into the curriculum. Beth’s current interests include the structure and function of phospholipid membranes, physics education research, and increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in physics.

Invited Speaker  

Dr. Emily Edwards, giving a tlka on Quantum Physics, the Next 100 Years, is from the Joint Quantum Institute, a collaboration between the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


Emily Edwards received a Bachelor's in both Physics and Chemistry from Appalachian State University in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Physics from University of Maryland in 2009. Her thesis work focused on constructing an apparatus to study disordered ultracold quantum gases. She joined Christopher Monroe's Trapped Ion Quantum Information group as a postdoc and did quantum simulations using atomic ions. She is currently the Director of Outreach at the Joint Quantum Institute. Her role is to convey the research to the public through science writing, graphics, photography, and demonstrations.

Invited Speaker  

Dr. Mike Falvo , Deptartment of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill will be giving a talk on Protein Physics and Cell Mechanics.

Dr. Falvo received his undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and his M.S and Ph.D. in physics from UNC-CH. His research interests include the study of nanoscale mechanical and electronic phenomena in contexts ranging from engineered electromechanical devices to biological systems. His current work focuses primarily in the area of nanoscale biophysics. In one project, he and his colleagues investigate the mechanical properties of the molecule fibrin, a protein that makes up the fibers that form blood clots. Another project focuses on understanding the mechanical operation of biological cilia. Falvo has taught and created several classes at UNC-CH including a First Year Seminar on nanoscience for which he received funding from the National Science Foundation. He is a recipient of campus-wide UNC-CH teaching award (SUTA), and is member of the UNC Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars. Falvo is also active in outreach and education efforts aimed at exposing nanoscience and nanotechnology concepts to middle and high school students. He recently completed a Math Science Partnership Project with Durham Public Schools that provided monthly professional development workshops for K-8 teachers focusing on physical science content knowledge.

Walk-in tours of the Physics & Astronomy Department

Photo by Amada Getty

Physics & Astronomy has been part of the curricula at Appalachian State University since its beginning in 1899 and existing as a stand-alone department since 1963. Today the department ranks is among the top 10% of physics departments nationwide in terms of the number of undergraduate majors and degrees awarded. It is primarily housed on the second and third floors of the Chemistry, Astronomy, and Physics (CAP) building on Rivers Street. Department facilities include several Nanotechnology and Microscopy laboratories; the Biophysics and Optical Sciences Facility (BiyOSeF); the Ion Trap laboratory; the AppalAIR and Atmospheric Optics Laboratory; the Rankin GoTo Laboraotry; the Dark Sky Observatory; Electronics, Instrumentation, and Robotics laboratories; and the Physics Demonstrations and Instructional Facilities. Stop by for a tour of several of these facilities/laboratories and see some of the exciting research taking place!
Tours of Rankin Science Observatory

Photo by Leander Hutton (     

There will be an evening under the stars at the Rankin GoTo Laboratory where participants will have access to use, in groups of two or three, one of the fifteen telescopes (weather permitting). David Sitar will guide participants to objects such as the Moon, Jupiter and other celestial objects. We will be able to view these objects through the eyepiece and then image them with a CCD camera. Plus, as an added bonus, take a quick image of the Moon with a cellphone camera for immediate use to view or share through social media.

Tours of Dark Sky Observatory


Photo by Todd Bush

Appalachian State University's Dark Sky Observatory is the research facility used by faculty and their students to conduct observational research in astrophysics. It is equipped with four telescopes, each used regularly for CCD imaging and photometry, with spectrographic instrumentation also available at the 32-inch. Established in 1981, the observatory is located about 20 miles northeast of Boone at an elevation of a kilometer. Far from major cities, its dark skies provide a good setting for digital imaging and spectroscopy done in stellar and solar system research projects.